Review – The Dead Center (2018)

‘A fantastically dark and scary mystery with the pace and propulsion of a low-budget action-thriller from writer/director Billy Senese. The corpse of an unidentified suicide victim walks out of a morgue and into a psychiatric hospital, becoming the object of obsession for a troubled doctor (played by Primer director Shane Carruth). The reanimated John Doe (Jeremy Childs) is creepy enough in his own right, and that’s before he reveals the nature of the power that brought him back.’

This was the second of the three films I watched on consecutive nights, as part of HOME Mcr’s FilmFear season.

I feel that most ‘blockbuster’ or ‘big budget’ films can take away from the ‘it could happen to you’ element that I find ramps up the fear when watching horror.

If I start down the path of ‘this could happen to me’ from watching The Dead Center, I’m in trouble. But the simple, stark, gritty cinematography in the film supports this concept perfectly.

I mean, we’re talking about a victim of suicide who comes back to life and finds himself in a Psychiatric Hospital, with the help of the dark force by which he’s possessed. That’s creep enough, but the long, meandering, lonely world depicted in the hospital itself adds to the isolation that encompasses the troubled main victim (or is that the protagonist? Can you be the protagonist when your soul is not your own?) of the piece.

With albeit more sympathetic staff, the hospital delivers One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest realness, down to the tinny, classical music piped out in the corridors. The absolute antithesis to Nurse Ratched, Carruth’s Doctor Forrester is heavily invested in his patients, and seemingly has more in common with them than not. With an approach to care that metaphorically puts him more in the bed with the patient, than by the side, it soon become clear that he knows not what he’s dealing with.

The film has its subtleties – no it has!

Literal blood-bath, mouths expelling pure evil and a body-count that just won’t quit as the film reaches its climax aside, there is some investment in the characters and a feeling that the film is not just playing it for gratuity (don’t worry, you get some for your buck) – there’s consideration for the characters and even the potential for a sequel – The Dead Center – Deader than ever before…

A great example of the genre, highly recommended.

On general release from Friday 8 November and at HOME Mcr as part of FilmFear until 11 November 2019.





  • Shane Carruth
  • Poorna Jagannathan
  • Jeremy Childs


YEAR – 2018